On my recent visit to Hong Kong, we had a very full agenda full of recommendations of what to see and do in this city that was completely new to us. We were told to visit Lantau, the biggest of the more than 200 outlying islands, with the Tung Chung area and the Big Buddha. Game for an adventure and after inspecting photographs of the site, we were curious and eager to go on the 25-minute cable car journey on the Ngong Ping 360.
We entered a crystal cabin with glass bottom floors and started making our way across the ocean, just as excited as our cabin members who hailed from Korea. One of the young children liked my reaction to the views so much, he repeated it all the way to the end: “Oh, my god!” It was a new experience for the children, and for us, as we were whisked into the sky capturing beautiful views of Hong Kong en route to Ngong Ping Village to see the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery.
The Ngong Ping 360system has 112 cabins, each of which has a modern design with seating for ten and standing room for another seven. It also incorporates features to meet the needs of disabled passengers, including the elderly and wheelchair users. The system can move 3,500 people per hour in each direction. Two levels of service are offered—standard cabins and crystal cabins. Both sets of cabins circulate on the same ropeway with passengers being segregated by queuing systems at both termini. It’s completely safe and secure and perfect for adults and children of all ages. Once you get to the island, you’ll want a stroller, walking cane, wheelchair or whatever mode of transport you need to get around. There are no cars allowed and plenty of walking.
On our journey, we had awe-inspiring views of the vast South China Sea; North Lantau County Park; Lantau’s famous natural landscapes. The number “360” in “Ngong Ping 360” means that passengers have a 360-degree view of Lantau Island and we most certainly did. Our eyes were popping out every inch of the way towards our destination.
Once in the village, we were treated to several attractions that have been built to reflect and maintain the cultural and spiritual integrity of the Ngong Ping area. While some of it has a Disneyland feel, it is still a unique and educational way to get to know Chinese heritage. We partook in every attraction being offered. Walking with Buddha is a multimedia attraction exploring the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha, and his path to enlightenment. Monkey’s Tale Theatre, perfect for kids, is another multimedia parable meant to engage its guests’ senses and get them into the spirit of the place.
The Tian Tan Buddha is the world’s largest, seated, outdoor bronze Big Buddha statue. Constructed from 202 bronze pieces, the statue weighs over 250 tonnes and soars 34 metres into the air. We walked up 268 steps to get there, and found the Buddha sitting on a lotus throne. It was pretty overwhelming, and we found the experience pretty breathtaking. It was also a thrill when we realized we could enter the Buddha – there’s a museum inside. It kind of freaked us out that we could use the toilet inside the Buddha, but it was also kind of nice.
While there, we had one of the best lunches ever, partly because I’m a huge fan of vegetarian food. The Po Lin Monastery is located just down from the Big Buddha, and is known as the “Buddhist World in the South”. The food was very impressive and cost $258 HK for two. We also enjoyed a nice stroll around the monastery after lunch and got a good look at the Buddhas on view.
For tickets and pricing, go here. A few suggestions for traveling with kids:
– Make sure they can handle height. It’s a long ride in the cable car and there is no turning back.
– The line to get in is very long. Be sure to get there when they open or early in the morning to avoid a longer one or prepare your kids for a wait.
– Give yourself plenty of time to see the village and explore the sites, probably around 3-4 hours.
– There are food options of all kinds and budgets all over the village.
– Bring water, sun cream and good walking shoes for everyone.
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets by the Hong Kong Tourist Board, but all opinions expressed are my own.